Events, Filmmakers, News, Screenings, South Korea, UK

The 100th Korean Film Night!

The Korean Cultural Centre celebrated the 100th Korean Film Night in style on Thursday evening, 26 April, at the Apollo Cinema, Piccadilly Circus, London. Tying in with the latest director to be lauded in their Year of the 12 Directors series, this time celebrating the work of Song Il-gon.

They could hardly have hoped for a more appreciative director, as Song was totally engaged in the evening and the events round it. Warm, charismatic and genuinely friendly, he was completely happy to talk about his career so far and very open and candid in his replies. In fact even when the group interview ended (as attended by the usual reprobates :), see above!) he continued the discussion in English as we were all meant to be making our way to the screening. For a man who described himself as serious in younger days, he definitely seemed to have left that behind him.

There were interesting parallels with last months director Park Kwang-su, as both directors presented recent / latest films that showed them step into the mainstream. Interestingly, while Park seemed so reluctant to discuss the film and his relationship with the investors, Song was more than happy to talk (and talk!) about the experience. The highs of his first, majorly successful film to the lows of investors insisting on cuts and edits.

While Always plays into the same melodrama that was so much a part of Meet Mr. Daddy, with major script contrivances, I found it easily more watchable, mainly down to two great lead performances and some astoundingly beautiful cinematography. Does it compare to earlier work like Flower Island or Spider Forest? Well, you know the answer to that, but at least Song is completely honest in his motives for making it.

He obviously enjoyed the evening, with a former colleague of the Polish Film School he attended also in the audience. He’s even thinking of moving one of his next projects from being based in Korea to setting it in London.

And then there was that cake… Congratulations to all at the KCCUK!

The group interview with Song Il-gon has been transcripted by Paul Quinn (you star!) on hangulcelluloid.com.

Japan, News, Releases, UK

Takashi Miike’s Hara-Kiri in UK cinemas and on Blu-ray/DVD

Takashi Miike’s (13 Assassins, Audition) remake of Masaki Kobayashi’s 1962 classic, Hara-Kiri: Death Of A Samurai comes to UK cinemas at the the beginning of next month, quickly followed by a domestic DVD and Blu-ray release.

UPDATE: The theatrical release will be the only chance to catch this in 3D, so make sure you head out to see it. The Blu-ray (currently only available to pre-order from Play.com) will not be in 3D, nor will the DVD.

Events, News, Screenings, UK

The Raid and Hard Boiled doublebill at the Ritzy rescheduled

The Picturehouse Podcast is two years old, and to celebrate they’re screening two great films in our late-night slot, a preview of Gareth Evans The Raid followed by John Woo’s classic Hard Boiled, at The Ritzy cinema in Brixton.

A great chance to see one of the best action films ever, and one that might possibly succeed it in years to come! (That long? :))

You can find out more and book tickets from Ritzy’s website.

Japan, News, Releases, UK, _Clips and trailers

Out today: two Kenji Mizoguchi dual formats

Eureka’a Masters Of Cinema label continues to release some of the greatest Asian films with two new dual format editions of acclaimed films by director Kenji Mizoguchi. Ugetsu Monogatari, based on two ghost stories by Ueda Akinari, and Sasho Dayu, based on a short story by Mori Ogai.

Both films come backed with lesser-known films by Mizoguchi, Oyu-sama and Gion Bayashi respectively. These combined Blu-ray and DVD editions have newly restored high-definition transfers, original trailers, video discussions by Tony Ryans and illustrated booklets including translated versions of the original stories.

These are fantastic editions and an absolute must for any aficionado of great cinema…

Reviews soon… A review of Ugetsu Monogatari is WELL overdue! :)

Events, Festivals, France, News, Releases, Screenings

Cannes 2012: the final line-up revealed

The final line-up for the Cannes Film Festival has been released, with several differences from the previously leaked list of 24 films that were widely reported at the beginning of the month. Though many of the films are the same, it’s particularly noticeable that some of the Asian filmmakers listed then are missing from the official line-up.

This year see’s two major Korean directors go head-to-head in competition with Hong Sang-soo’s In Another Country, whose Hahaha won the Prix Un Certain Regard in 2010 ; and Im Sang-Soo’s The Taste of Money, whose The Housemaid competed for the Palme d’Or the same year and was widely acclaimed (though it still remains unreleased in the UK after being ’shelved’ by Axiom earlier this year).

Directors competing for Un Certain Regard this year include Lou Ye (Suzhou River, Purple Butterfly) with Mystery and Koji Wakamatsu (United Red Army, Caterpillar) with 11.25 The Day He Chose His Own Fate, and there’s a midnight screening of Takashi Miike’s latest, The Legend of Love & Sincerity (Ai to makoto) making a return to Cannes with – what – another remake?!

There’ll also be a special screening of Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s Mekong Hotel, whose ghost tragedy Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives took the top prize in 2010.

The Guardian have a feature on the Cannes full programme.

Events, Filmmakers, News, Screenings, South Korea, UK

Always screening and Song Il-Gon Q&A

Rounding off another month devoted to the work of one director, the focus of this months Korean Cultural Centre UK’s Year Of The 12 Directors is Song Il-Gon, best known for Flower Island, Spider Forest, Feathers In The Wind and Dance Of Time.

Not particularly well-known in the UK, he was the first Korean filmmaker to win an award at Cannes, the Grand Prize of the Jury Best Short Film, Picnic, in 1999, and has also proved popular at Festivals in Venice, Busan, Tokyo and Melbourne to name but a few. Indeed initially his work was often much more widely appreciated outside of Korea.

The screening of his latest film Always, which opened the Busan International Film Festival in 2011, screens next Thursday, 26 April at the Apollo Cinema, London, followed by a Q&A hosted by Roger Clarke.

Tickets can be purchased here.

Events, Festivals, News, Releases, UK

Manga Entertainment announcements and MCM Expo Birmingham

On March 31st, at the MCM Expo in Birmingham, Manga Entertainment announced some of the new series and movies they are going to publish this year. I’m very excited for two of them: Puella Magi Madoka Magica (魔法少女まどか★マギカ) and Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt.

Madoka Magica is a new take on the classical “magical girl” trope: schoolgirls gain magical powers, helped by a cute small furry sentient animal-like creature, and fight evil. But this time it’s different. For one, the titular character does not become a magical girl in the first episode. For another, by the second episode, you have the strong suspicion that the fury thing is not being completely honest. I’m not going to tell you anything more about the story, but you do want to get this series as soon as it gets released. It’s only 12 episodes, with essentially no filler, and very good character development.

Panty & Stocking is dirty slapstick comedy from Gainax. It does not reach the level of mind-bending absurdity of FLCL, but is a very funny series that does not require much effort on the viewer’s part. The two main characters are angels who’ve been thrown out of Heaven: Panty is a blond sex addict, Stocking is a dark-haired Goth who prefers sweets but won’t turn down sex, either. Together, they fight ghosts and evil spirits. Not much story happens (if you ignore the last episode, which manages to upend anything you thought you knew about the characters, and paves the way for the second series), but there are plenty of dirty jokes, and if you manage not to be disgusted by some of them, you’ll laugh plenty.

Events, Festivals, News, Premieres, Screenings

Inseparable European Premiere @ Terracotta Festival 2012

Terracotta Festival is proud to hold the European premiere of the Chinese movie Inseparable directed by Dayyan Eng, featuring Daniel Wu and Kevin Spacey.

Inseparable tells the story of hopeless 30 year old Li (Wu), who strikes up an unlikely friendship with a strange American ex-pat, Chuck (Kevin Spacey in excellent comic form). They first meet when Chuck foils Li’s attempt at suicide, claiming to be his neighbour. He takes Li under his wing, gradually helping with his troubles at work, with life in general and his relationship woes with his wife, Pang (Gong), an investigative reporter who suffers from extreme mood swings. But is Chuck really who he says he is? And why do Li and Chuck “patrol the streets” like superheros late in to the night…?

The films official release in China is due on May 2012.

Find out more about the full Terracotta Festival programme.

Competitions, News, UK

Congratulations to the winner of our Jackie Chan DVD bundle!

Wow, you are one lucky so and so! Once again we were inundated with entries, but sadly there can only be one (randomly picked) winner. Your prize of 21 Cine-Asia released Jackie Chan films on DVD, including his latest release 1911: Revolution and one signed by the man himself, will be winging it’s way to you soon…

(Though frankly I have no idea how this is going to fit through your letter box!)

For those that entered but weren’t successful this time, thank you and do try again next time… Our next competition won’t be far away!